USDA extends aviation partnership for biofuels

Published on: Apr 16, 2013

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending for five years its agreement to work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other partners to help develop a viable biofuel for the aviation industry. The Secretary signed the agreement with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the Advanced Biofuels Summit at Gaylord National Harbor in Maryland.

"By continuing to work together to produce American made 'drop-in' aviation fuels from renewable feedstocks, we will create jobs and economic opportunity in rural America, lessen America's reliance on foreign oil and develop a thriving biofuels industry that will benefit commercial and military enterprises," Vilsack said. "USDA is pleased to partner with the FAA in our quest to develop alternatives to fossil-based fuel, which is critical to reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment."

"Through the use of sustainable alternative jet fuels, we are showing the world that we can come together to solve our greatest environmental challenges," added LaHood. "In his State of the Union Address, President Obama called on us to work together to reduce carbon emissions - developing these alternative jet fuels will do just that, while creating jobs and helping airlines save money on fuel."

The new agreement, which includes partners from the commercial aviation sector, follows the initial success of the 2010-2012 "Farm to Fly" initiative. It also supports President Obama's commitment to clean energy technology, energy independence and job creation and is part of USDA's efforts to strengthen the rural economy. The federal government and its partners hope to support the annual production of 1 billion gallons of drop in aviation biofuel by 2018.

In July 2010, USDA, Airlines for America, Inc. (A4A) and the Boeing Company (Boeing) signed a resolution formalizing their commitment to work together on the "Farm to Fly" initiative. "Farm to Fly" builds upon the work of USDA's Regional Biomass Research Centers, which are helping to develop a robust, advanced biofuels industry by working with industry partners to produce energy-producing feedstocks within different regions. The renewed agreement focuses on future goals - such as designating personnel, evaluating current and potential feedstock types and systems, developing multiple feedstock supply chains, developing state and local public-private teams, communicating results, and issuing periodic reports.